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Unveiling Customer Insights – How to gather customer feedback in fitness centers

Nov 22, 2023 | Blog

Key Takeaways

Why fitness center reviews are critical:

  1. The Critical Challenges are numerous and difficult in the fitness center industry
  2. Customer feedback plays a critical role in overcoming these challenges.
  3. Online complaints have a huge impact on fitness center survival rates.
  4. Feedback methods a comparison of traditional and modern feedback methods.
  5. Cell-phone feedback offers huge benefits to fitness center management.
  6. Implementation strategies need to be used for effective feedback.


Customer feedback is critical for any business, but especially for fitness centers, where customer experience determines whether members renew their memberships and tell their friends. Feedback provides insights into customers’ perceptions, needs and satisfaction levels. With increasing competition, simply offering state-of-the-art equipment is no longer enough. Fitness centers need to actively listen to their members and continuously enhance services based on feedback, otherwise their own fitness level will suffer.

However, gathering honest and representative customer feedback can be challenging. Traditional methods have limitations in terms of convenience, reach and objectivity. New cell phone based techniques allow systematic collection of customer insights right when they matter the most – before a customer defects from the fitness center, or worse, defects and complains online. These locations are complex, offering a variety of services any of which can bring down the location. These include fitness classes, personal trainers, cardio equipment, circuit training and weight training equipment.

In this article, we discuss the perils of negative online reviews and how feedback systems can help prevent them. Additionally we analyze popular feedback methods, their pros and cons, and make a case for adopting cell phone based techniques for fitness centers.

Now let’s start the heavy lifting

fitness center reviews







So What are the Challenges of the Fitness Center Industry – Some Quick Statistics:

Q1) How Many Fitness Centers are there in the US?

There is lots of competition. In fact, according to IBIS – as of 2023, there are approximately 113,326 enterprises in the Gym, Health & Fitness Clubs industry in the United States​​. Additionally, from Statista we know there are over 115,000 businesses in the broader fitness industry (Yoga, Pilates, Spinning etc).​​These figures represent a slight increase from the previous year and include various types of fitness centers but may not encompass all boutique studios, community recreation facilities, or gyms located in other venues such as hotels.

Q2) What is the failure rate in the fitness center industry?

Hold onto your socks – here are some damning statistics from ABC Fitness:

In the ultra-competitive world of health and fitness, where less than 50% of new gyms and fitness centers are expected to survive beyond the first 5 years in business.

Some think its higher. In fact – According to the IHRSA, the failure rate of health and fitness businesses is 81% in their first year.

Q3) So what causes them to fail?

Here are the top 10 reasons from Exercise.com:

  1. Lack of Capital​​.
  2. Inexperienced Owners​​.
  3. Lackluster Branding​​.
  4. Lack of Unique Selling Proposition​​.
  5. Poor Location Selection​​.
  6. Negative Online Reviews and Reputation Management Issues
  7. Lack of Cleanliness and Hygiene Standards​
  8. Gym members quitting
  9. Insufficient Staff Training and Development​​.
  10. Limited Class Offerings and Variety of Fitness Programs

HINT: The ones in bold are those that could have been corrected if the right customer feedback program had been in place. Many locations have these, but alas they chose the wrong method or the implementation was poor. We will discuss these shortly.

Q4) How many gym members quit?

More bad news here. The majority of health clubs and gyms lose 50% of their new members within the first six months. Annually, a very small amount of health clubs lose less than 30% of their members. Quite a few of these folk are developing at home gyms.  A 2020 report prepared on behalf eBay.com collated data and found that online sales of fitness equipment increased up to 20 times.

Q5) Why are negative online reviews so damaging?

Like all other businesses – online complaints on social media are devastating to a fitness center for a few key reasons:

  1. Immediate visibility: A negative review posted on social media platforms becomes available for a large audience to see very quickly. Even for a small local gym, word of frustrations or poor service spreads rapidly.
  2. Credibility: People tend to place more weight on direct word-of-mouth referrals and customer experiences shared online. A few bad reviews seem more truthful and can erode a brand’s reputation.
  3. Emotional intensity: Dissatisfied customers may use very expressive language when complaining online, warning others about significant issues or “horror stories”.
  4. Difficulty redressing: It can be challenging for businesses to fully address grievances aired on social media channels. The complaints remain visible even if resolved internally and any action is always to later

In essence, in today’s world an emerging fitness center needs to offer excellent customer service and monitor online reviews diligently to manage reputation. A few angry customers can vent their frustration to thousands online and severely impact member sign-ups, so complaints have to be handled promptly and courteously. It becomes a key business priority.


A dirty fitness center

What are some of the current feedback methods used by Fitness Centers?

Current Methods of gathering customer feedback at fitness centers include – comment cards, focus groups and email surveys. However, these have limitations or are just plain wrong!

  • Comment Cards Pros: Easy to implement by placing them across the center. Staff can also hand them out to members.
  • Comment Cards Cons: Suffer from low response rates. Feedback is limited to only highly satisfied or dissatisfied members. Fails to capture insights from average customers. There are many more than this – in fact have a look at the list of advantages and disadvantages of customer comment cards. Moreover – they are not cheap, in fact you can use a calculator to confirm how pricey they are.
  • Focus Groups Pros: Allow moderated in-depth discussion to gather qualitative perceptions from a group of 8-10 members. Useful for new initiatives and products.
  • Focus Groups Cons: Feedback represents only a tiny sample. Moderator bias can creep in. Conducting groups on an ongoing basis is really expensive – you can expect to pay about $4,000 – $5,000 on the low end for a single focus group and $12,000 – $15,000 on the high end.
  • Email Surveys Pros: Easy to create and distribute online. Can reach all members if emails are captured.
  • Email Surveys Cons: Low open and response rates due to survey fatigue. Feedback is limited only to digitally-savvy members. Often ignored by average customers.

There is a much more effective method to solve some of the fitness challenges AND overcome the issues with traditional survey tools.

Introducing Cell Phone Based Feedback

Modern customers are glued to cell phones. Fitness centers can leverage to gather customer feedback. Works on all phones, no apps required. Cell phone based techniques deliver systematically collected ratings from a broad customer base on a continuous basis. Any recurring grievances get quickly highlighted and fixed well before they turn into negative publicity online. Members also appreciate businesses that actively seek their feedback for improvements. The mechanism is simple.

Fitness Center Feedback Process

  • Step 1: Members get prompted for feedback anywhere in the fitness center.
  • Step 2: Feedback is via the cell phone through a short survey.
  • Step 3: Data is uploaded to a dashboard where the system instantly analyses ratings
  • Step 4:Alerts are sent to staff in seconds if a member is unhappy. This means they can fix the issue and connect with the member
Benefits Over Traditional Methods for Fitness Center Reviews:
  1. Higher response rates: Surveys taken on cell phones have 3-4X higher response rates over paper or email surveys. Alerts act as reminders, prompting more members to give feedback.
  2. Real-time insights: Feedback is captured within minutes of members finishing a gym session. Perceptions are fresh leading to more accurate ratings. Trends can be analyzed over hours not months.
  3. Unbiased and representative: Feedback comes from all customer segments – highly satisfied and unhappy ones alike. Gives a holistic view not skewed towards extremes.
  4. Automated analysis and alerts: Software collates ratings, discovers pain points through text analysis, and alerts staff in real-time about urgent issues. Enables swift redressal and service recovery.
  5. Preempt negative reviews: By proactively gathering feedback anywhere in the fitness location at any point – from any customer
Where in the Fitness Center Can you Get Feedback:

Anywhere! From car parking, front desk, exercise equipment, spin classes, food and beverage – even the locker rooms. Check out the examples below:

Restroom feedback in Fitness Centers

In addition to locker rooms – get feedback about food service options and throughout the workout area.

Fitness Center Feedback Signage


For fitness centers facing increasing competition, simply offering state-of-the-art equipment is no longer enough. Customer experience is the differentiator that decides membership renewals and referrals.

However, traditional paper and email based surveys fail to capture unbiased feedback in time to make improvements. Modern cell phone based programs allow fitness centers to continuously measure customer happiness across segments. Issues get rapidly highlighted and fixed before they dent reputations or aggravate members.

With customers glued to mobile phones, leveraging them as a feedback channel is critical to unlocking customer insights 24×7. The technology allows systematically tapping into the minds of all members – highly satisfied and unhappy alike – uncovering improvement areas as well as strengths worth building upon. It ultimately helps enhance customer experience on an ongoing basis – the key to retention and growth in the fitness industry.

Embracing innovative methods like cell phone-based feedback can significantly enhance the quality of insights gathered, leading to better member satisfaction and service improvement.

Check out our products sheets page and contact us for a short discussion and review.



Q: Why is customer feedback essential for fitness centers?
A: Customer feedback is crucial for understanding member needs, improving services, and ensuring satisfaction, which are key to retaining members and enhancing the center’s reputation.

Q: How do traditional feedback methods fall short in collecting fitness center reviews?
A: Traditional methods often lack real-time input and fail to capture detailed feedback effectively.

Q: What are the benefits of using cell phone-based feedback for fitness center reviews?
A: Cell phone-based feedback allows for immediate, detailed responses, and is more engaging for members, leading to richer and more actionable insights.


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